“I’ve always loved playing sports, but I try never to put myself in danger,” says André Miguel Valente da Silva, the 27-year-old Red Bull athlete who is also known as one of the best strikers in the game. world.
Dividing his time between the Bundesliga and his national team, Portugal, Silva knows he has a responsibility to his sport and his body. Which doesn’t mean it’s all football, football, football. “Sometimes I like to do other sports like paddle tennis with my family and friends,” he explains. “Or, here in Leipzig, I try to be active on the bike or in the canoe.”
That said, with Qatar 2022 poised to take over everyone’s lives, Silva is now in full fitness mode – and he’s taking it more seriously than ever.
“I think football these days demands a lot from the players because we have a lot of games, flights and training sessions,” says Andre – not to mention his canoeing commitments. “I think the amount of games is more of a burden on body and mind than a few years ago. It’s not easy and we have to sacrifice some parts of our social life. Of course, we have to adapt and try to make the best of this situation.
The pressures described by Silva here are very real, but thankfully society – and athletes – are now more mindful of mental health than ever before, so Silva and his teammates in both countries are able to put in place safety nets.
“Soccer players and other professional athletes are somewhat different from the average society,” he says. “We are already starting at a young age with a lot of responsibility and pressure. There were a lot of situations where I didn’t feel well but now I look back and those times made me stronger in the future. I never gave up and that made me who I am today. We need to be aware of mental well-being because it is totally underestimated.
This content is imported from YouTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, on their website.
The Balancing Act
Talking about his fitness, Silva continually comes back to the idea of keeping everything in balance. Whether it is the balance between physical and mental, the balance between nutrition and training, rest and active time.
“Everyone is mentally and physically different so I have to focus on myself and be balanced. I like to go to the gym even before training because sports football can put us off balance,” says- he.
Injuries are, of course, a major concern for a player representing his national team and Silva’s philosophy helps him stay in tune with his body and off the bench. “I believe that if you constantly stay in balance with your body, you can try to prevent injuries that you can control. Of course, you don’t know what will happen in the future and some things are bad luck, but we can prepare and focus on ourselves and the things we can prevent. We can go to the gym, focus on mind and body and have a good recovery. But the most important thing is to sleep well and pay attention to good nutrition.
Oranges at halftime
Silva knows that what you put into your body affects the performance you get out of it. “Knowing what you’re drinking, what vitamins you’re focusing on is key to providing your normal diet,” he says. “I always try to stay hydrated during the day even if I’m not thirsty. I try to drink water constantly and in smaller amounts.
As with main meals, Silva avoids too much fat and sugar despite having a sweet tooth. “After games I try to eat protein to help the muscles recover. Before a game I eat more carbohydrates. If possible I try to eat healthy, green vegetables and leaves, but in football sometimes you even need fast carbs, ha.
When he’s not rushing the field, Silva knows the importance of recovery. “Right now it’s very rare to have a day off,” he says. “We always have training and matches in different competitions. Most days without training, I do active recovery and go to the gym. Once I reach the World Cup final, I will then recover for the holidays, haha.
One thing that Silva will fish for a lot while on vacation is sleep. “I think sleep is one of the most important things,” he enthuses. “It can improve your recovery and in football we need to recover often and faster to be in top shape. Sleep also prepares us to be in the best mental shape. For me sleeping consistently between 8 and 9 hours is the best.
“It’s completely different playing in the desert or in the Arctic,” Silva says when asked how he prepares for the heat in Qatar. “I think as footballers we are used to playing in different weather conditions. I don’t know how it will be with this kind of heat, but I will try to prepare as best I can for the future situation.
“My body, my mind and I are completely different from any other player,” he continues. “Not everything I do has the same benefit for someone else. Everyone should focus on what looks and feels best for them.